Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani school pupil and spokesperson for women’s right to education. In retaliation for her high profile campaign for education and criticism of the Taliban, she was shot in the head at close range by a Taliban gunman. She survived the gunshot wound and has become a leading spokesperson for human rights, education and women’s rights. She has received numerous peace awards and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 along with Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian children’s rights activist.

Early Life Malala

Malala was born (12 July 1997) in Mingora, the Swat District of north-west Pakistan to a Sunni Muslim family. She was named Malala, which means ‘grief-stricken’ after a famous female Pashtun poet and warrior from Afghanistan.

Her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai is a poet and runs a chain of public schools. He is a leading educational advocate himself. In 2009, Malala began writing an anonymous blog for the BBC expressing her views on education and life under the threat of the Taliban taking over her valley. It was her father who suggested his own daughter to the BBC. She wrote under the byline “Gul Makai.”

During this period, the Taliban’s military hold on the area intensified. At times, Malala reported hearing artillery from the advancing Taliban forces. As the Taliban took control of the area, they issued edicts banning television, banning music, and banning women from going shopping and limiting women’s education. Many girls schools were blown up and as a consequence pupils stayed at home, scared of possible reprisals from the Taliban. However, for a time, there was a brief respite when the Taliban stated girls could receive primary education if they wore Burkhas. But, a climate of fear prevailed, and Malala and her father began to receive death threats for their outspoken views. As a consequence, Malala and her father began to fear for their safety. Her father once considered moving Malala outside of Swat to a boarding school, but Malala didn’t want to leave.

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